How are the properties of medication approved?

We all take medication at one time or another. But how is this medication approved? What is the process? Learn about the important process that aims to ensure that those who take medication stay safe.

How are the properties of medication approved?

Clinical trial

  • Double blind, placebo controlled clinical trials aim to provide accurate data on the safety and effectiveness of medication, and are generally considered to be the most reliable evaluation method.
  • Many herbal medicines have now had their properties confirmed by clinical trials, which has strengthened their credibility in the eyes of conventional medicine. Some doctors are therefore more likely to prescribe them to their patients.
  • When the results of clinical trials are negative, the use of a tried and tested remedy is questioned, along with the way in which the trial was conducted.
  • Using clinical trials to check the therapeutic effects of plant-based medicines can provide a great deal of useful information for researchers and doctors, but they are far from easy to conduct.

Standardized product

  • The first difficulty is ensuring that each patient in the trial is administered a product, which must be absolutely identical.
  • Medicinal plants are natural substances, so their chemical composition may vary from one batch to another.
  • Many studies therefore use standardized plant extracts and there is a great deal of data currently available, which confirms the properties and dosage of these products (it is usually a single plant administered as tablets or capsules).
  • Scientific data on more traditional preparation methods, however, are much rarer. This would involve assessing the effectiveness of infusions, decoctions, remedies involving several plants, and the expertise of herbal medicine, instead of focusing the trial on one single plant or an isolated substance.
  • Furthermore, developing standardized products puts in place processes that allow pharmaceutical laboratories to better use the results of research, and therefore more easily get a return on their investment, by confirming that their specific product has been proved to be effective, unlike other non-standardized products.
  • These issues have a major influence on the practice of herbal medecine, particularly doctors' prescribing habits, as they usually choose products that have been proven to be effective in clinical trials.

Economic aspect

  • It is also important to highlight the economic aspect of carrying out studies.
  • Plants that meet the greatest market needs are those most likely to be the subject of research and become proven to be effective.

However, this extreme focus on the most profitable remedies means that the study of other plants (particularly the least well known and those that have been studied the least), and the methods used by herbalists to treat a large number of disease is put on the back burner.

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